Experiencing Youth Volunteerism Seminar – 24th April 2019

Digital Cities Research Institute, in collaboration with FCM Staff Welfare Committee, and few NGOs organized a half-day volunteerism seminar on 23 April. The seminar was conducted in order to foster the volunteerism spirit among MMU students. The seminar looked to expose students to how youth of the day were involving themselves with social enterprises, NGOs and NGIs of the day in serving the community.

A total of 168 participants (students, staff, guests and NGOs) attended the seminar which was held at FOM Lecture Hall. The seminar began with a welcoming speech from Associate Professor Dr Koo Ah Choo, representing the Director of Digital Cities Research Institute (Professor Peter Woods), who welcomed all the speakers and participants for the Seminar and stressed that the wellbeing of cities is all about the people connections in the cities, hence the importance of volunteerism seminar.

A talk on the importance of youth volunteerism was then given by Associate Professor Dr Chong Chin Wei, the project leader and she emphasised on the significance of youth contribution in achieving sustainable development.

The event had invited several speakers. They were Mr Francis Tan of Tzu Chi Malaysia, Hani Suhaila from BudiForward, Raz Adibah from MIASA, Hasan Al Akraa from AHVN, and Dr Alan Downe from iCYCLE. The organisers also invited several student volunteers to share their experience in doing volunteerism. Roughly 150 students, including staffs attended the seminar.

There were several topics presented and discussed throughout the seminar. One them was the on the awareness of environmental damages created by single-use plastics by Mr Francis Tan of Tzu Chi Foundation. Francis also encouraged the audience to visit the various recycling centres they have all over the Klang Valley through their website. Dr Alan Downe also touched on the issue of environment, calling for better awareness on recycling. He introduced the iCYCLE method of compiling and sending recyclable materials to the various centres they have in Klang Valley.

Puan Hani Suhaila of BudiForward discussed on how social activism can lead a to a more collaborative and entrepreneurial endeavor if implemented correctly. She shared the story of a group of students who started out doing mural painting for refugee schools, which then attracted the attention of the Melaka City Council who hired them to do more murals all over Melaka Town. The next speaker, Hasan Al Akraa, who is a refugee himself, spoke about his background and his own real-life experiences which lead him to believe that it was his duty to make life better for himself and others around him. In trying to give his community of refugees a better living condition, and means of independence, Hasan initiated various social enterprises and built a huge following who basically became his band of network volunteers. Through these networks, he started running various social activities to help elevate the living conditions of various refugee communities.

The next topic being discussed was that of mental health. Ms Raz Adibah spoke about mental health awareness which is quite lacking despite the various news indicating many incidents arising from the lack of such awareness. She shared the various support given by MIASA to those who seek mental health support.

Last but not least, we had students sharing their experience in doing volunteering works. We had Nicole Ang from Creative Multimedia Club in FCM, Sue Jing Ren from FOE volunteering at Dengkil Recycling Point for Tzu Chi Foundation and the Humanity Hope team from FCI.

The seminar was concluded by Mdm Nekhat Sultana who recapped the various points made by all the speakers. She also advised the students to bev sensitive and conscious of the community they deal with. The role of social activities should be to fill in the gap in the society and elevate their quality of life. As people who have been blessed and live a privileged life, it is our duty to share that those blessings and use that privilege to help others.